The Narcotics Control Board of Thailand is pushing forward with a rewritten draft of the country’s drug laws in order to legalize medical marijuana. The proposed revision, which is currently going through the parliamentary process, will allow medicinal cannabis to be sold over-the-counter for patients with a valid prescription from their doctor.
The draft is currently on its way to the Cabinet for consideration and will ultimately be voted on by the junta-appointed interim parliament. The move is expected to pass without opposition.
“For medical purposes, [patients] will be able to get the marijuana, but only on a doctor’s orders. They can’t grow it on their own,” said Narcotics Control Board director Sirinya Sitdhichai on Tuesday. “This is what we have put in the draft.”
Thailand’s public health department and the country’s law enforcement agencies have stated no opposition to the move, which is in stark contrast to previous policy in the Asian nation. The old method of drug policy in Thailand consisted of incarceration and, in some cases, execution.
In 2016, previous Justice Minister of Thailand Paiboon Koomchaya declared the war on drugs to be a failure, which opened the door to a conversation about what to do next. Despite these discussions, complete legalization of adult-use cannabis is still an ongoing debate.
“Doctors in our country are still divided into two opinions,” said Sitdhichai. “Some fear that if we legalize it for recreational use, children may use it, and it may impact their brain development. We are looking at both the good and the bad.”
This is not Thailand’s first attempt to address cannabis laws, either. The country has long been looking at relaxing laws surrounding the plant. In August 2016, the government discussed decriminalization as a possibility, and since that time laws have been changed to allow farmers to grow hemp.
For the moment, it’s clear that the Narcotics Control Board is making a valiant effort to usher in a new era of medicine for Thailand. Once adopted, the country will be one of the first in Asia to do so.